Chapter 8: Amistad Tune: Yankee Doodle
Heidi Hardin, Chapter 8: Amistad Tune: Yankee Doodle. Tempera on Paper with Mixed Media Collage, 24” x 18”
These are the notes that I transcribed from the Spielberg movie Amistad this morning:
"We are not alone," Cinque says.
"No, we are not alone. We have righteousness, justice, reason on our side," John Quincy Adams replies.
"I meant my ancestors. I will call into the past, far back into the beginning of time, and beg them to come and help me. I will reach back and draw them into me and they must come for at this moment I am the whole reason they have existed at all."
During the trial of the prisoners of the Amistad (Spanish for 'friendship') Adams, offers that "the natural state of mankind is freedom." He says, "the proof of this is the length a man, woman or child will go to regain it once taken. He will break loose his chains; he will decimate his enemies; he will try and try and try, against all odds, against all prejudices, to get home. If not, what do we do with the embarrassing, annoying document, The Declaration of Independence? What of its conceits? All men are created equal, with unalienable rights, life, liberty, so on and so forth. The Mende believe that if one can summon the spirit of one's ancestors then they have never left. The wisdom and strength that they fathered and inspired will come to his aid."
Then surveying their alabaster statues in the courtroom, Adams concludes by saying, "James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams, We have long resisted asking you for guidance for perhaps we have feared in doing so, we might acknowledge that our individuality which we so revered is not entirely our own. Perhaps we have feared that an appeal to you might be taken for weakness, but we have come to understand finally ... that who we are is who we were."
I wonder when all people: young and old, large and small, will be treated equally-will have the unalienable rights, life, liberty, happiness. When they do, then the last tears of the American Revolution will have been shed.
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